Monday, November 23, 2009

Military plans aircraft carrier in Apra Harbor

Military plans aircraft carrier in Apra Harbor

Posted: Nov 23, 2009 4:50 PM
by Heather Hauswirth

Construction of a deep draft wharf that would support a transient nuclear powered aircraft carrier in Apra Harbor, Guam requires over 5,600 military personnel alone to maintain daily operations - the carrier is the largest ship in the Navy's fleet.

The Draft Environmental Protection Statement describes why the Department of Defense wanted to construct an aircraft carrier on the island. Some of the reasons include that Naval Base Guam already possesses emergent nuclear repair, radiation response and radioactive waste management capabilities.

* The aircraft carrier is recognized as a floating sovereign U.S. territory
* The island's location in the Western Pacific is deemed vital for U.S. national security interests given threats from neighboring China, North Korea, and the Philippines

Aircraft carriers are deployed all over the world and used to support aircraft attacks during combat, provide deterrence during peacetime, and engage in independent operations of war during times of crisis. The projected annual carrier visits to Guam in the DEIS are estimated to be 63 days per year based on operational and geopolitical factors.

The Department of Defense identified Apra Harbor, an active commercial and military port, and Polaris Point, as the most suitable location for the aircraft carrier. The DEIS dismissed several nearby alternatives like Dry Dock Island, and the Commercial Port, shooting them down for unavoidable dredging in the Sasa Bay Preserve and the force protection costs associated with those locations seen as more vulnerable to attack from ships that might come in from the Phillipine Sea.

Other factors taken into consideration had to do with the cost of structural design requirements needed to shield wind and wave impacts and ecological concerns related to ensuring minimal damage occur from dredging, according to the DoD.

For instance, all aircraft carriers require 6-feet be beneath the keel to ensure a cooling system is not clogged or damaged by mud from the debris of the sea floor. Whether built in Apra Harbor or Polaris Point, the environmental impact on the coral reefs and habitat that will be disrupted is being considered.

The Department of Agriculture has taken the lead warning that the agency is looking closely at the DoD's analysis to ensure construction with minimal irreversible damage is done to the reef and existing habitat.

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